Third Book: Moonrise


Carpe diem, carpe Dei: when I was younger and finally mastered a little bit of Latin, I boasted to some student of the university, and he responded to my boast with a long, I believed, equally wise quotation on Latin: when I asked what it means, he said: “Everything said in Latin sounds wise.” I was dumbstruck and ashamed for studying Latin which I later abandoned as useless, only to come to a response a decade later, saying to myself for no reason: “Indeed. Everything said in our university appears clever.”


Observation of an empirical reality: how many times have I, waking up in a wrong time, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, desired a great master, even a man I could come to hate! For even such hatred would focus my being onto a singular point. I had nowhere to go and nothing to be, since the age of class rituals – family breakfast, morning shaves, suits and ties, prayers and house-chores, reading and petty thrills—have evaporated into pointlessness, into nothingness. Endless choices amounting to none since too much of them makes a person miss important ones which appear irrelevant and always waiting. That is our twilight…and outside I would go, and going down, going south from my home I would, somewhere around three, four or five in the morning, end up on the riverbank, near some forgotten, dilapidated fort—but what a mad, maddening thrill reaching there used to be! Entirety of the city slumbering except those which are restless—hearing from a distance, barking and wailing of stray dogs, singing of drunks and chirping of birds which have missed their mark…if one wished to reach the riverbank, he needed to pass a wild park and hear an incessant cawing of crows in hundreds which chose the tiny forest as their domain…I observed how the flapping of their wings produced wild tremors in my soul and a deep, near-religious fright for it was a reality without logical direction, which very few have the courage to perceive, or even the capabilities: it is best to walk around in that forgotten period when the moon is central and sun banished, letting oneself free from all assumptions, only to discover that, if we had to go back not a hundred centuries back but one we would grow mad with terror. Everything in the world becomes a reality which can’t be misheard through full sentience, through an endless series of background noises—our work, our chores, worries, desires, heritage, culture, nothing of it matters as the entire forest starts to shake and bristle and the mind begins fidgeting in an unfamiliar domain—a paranoia strikes you—the forest is after me. Every single crow cackles against you, swaying branches a mad pattern of translucid reality, a dreamlike, dusk-like inversion of common patterns…one flees! Flees forward, through the forest feeling thousands of oily, beady eyes following, only to emerge—moonrise! Moonrise! An incomprehensible moment greets you: there, the river is illuminated by a moonrise, and in a mix of night and day, for a second the dawn switched places with dusk and a new sun greets the careful explorer: silver dawn, cold and invigorating, where one comes to rest from resting, from excessive rest…one has rested too long it appears. The sun, still below the horizon, and not a single golden, orange hue—spectral darkness, and enlightened night. I sat on a stony surface of the riverbank, connected to the fort, the sole existence in the world…with such a different, differing perspective the world was turned upside down and the full moon began giving everything a blue-green tinge of an inverted morning. But I was the only one to see it. And so…nobody saw it, a historical sleeper can’t be trusted; sometimes I don’t even trust myself. We are back to perspective, of unlearning built-in possibilities—if you strain your powers of observation too much you will begin to observe a completely waking reality, always there, always constant, as nightmarish, or even worse—as a dream-like state behind which a true reality must lie hidden. This could be madness, or could be a prophetic revelation but it is certainly what our ancestors considered an ill omen, a cursed sight, no, cursed capability of seeing: one awakens to overlapping different possibilities which might all be false or true depending on circumstances of historical momentum: such keen insight might have driven Nietzsche mad…how thankful was I on that day I am a mere idiot!


The line on a chalkboard: the deepest differentiation between East and West is not mere politics but aspirations: the West, through scholastics, Aquinas, Campanella, guilds, charters, Origen, popes and kings is thoroughly Aristotelian. The East, through Byzantium and their emperors, church fathers, nomocanons, iconoclasm, mysticism and spiritual insight, is thoroughly Platonic. We are repetitions and fulfillments of Greek philosophy and, if we adore Plato, we still adore truth more as Aristotle used to say – but we, from here, shout back what Aristocles (Plato) used to say back: that reality is too disgusting not to conceal it under idealism. The Byzantine Emperor used to be the fulfilled ideal of a Philosopher-king of Platonic thought… he was both the head priest and leader of a state—there was no Aristotelian division into categories, no separation of church and state. Then, through early Church fathers and imperial churches have we gotten our first sentience – our very script, Cyrillic, was invented by Byzantine monks in service of the Byzantine emperor…! It is our most intoxicating desire—a Russian goes mad or dreamy thinking of Byzantium, thinking himself an inheritor of the civilizer of Slavs! The Russians were persuaded to become Orthodox by seeing Hagia Sophia in all glory a thousand years ago! For Slavs it is what Rome is for Westerners—but our Rome evaporated. Russia discovered it can’t chase after an ideal and sought to become an ideal state—and we all know how that ended. Yet, this mad struggle still fills us with a certain awe and respect which is lacking in all proper, categorical, empirical and properly researched Aristotelianism: even if Europe succeeded in everything, it never learned to fail to the point of ruin, into pits of hell: it never had an Ivan the Terrible, Vlad Tepes, Josip Broz, a possessed demon wishing to be an angel…but still, the same ease with which Aristotle understood everything, with the same impersonal, peripatetic swaying of robes have Europeans understood everything…Aristotle’s disciples won—but Plato’s disciples promise more in the time to come. The question—why do they always promise and never deliver?


Overcoming history: those greatest of spirits, called Greeks, have experienced every possible political reality and possibility which can be envisioned, and have fulfilled it in their city-states so thoroughly we are doing nothing more but repeating their steps: Lacademonians with dour and poor Sparta, rich Athens, strange and enigmatic Thebes, Ionians, the Archaic period, Dorians, even their own dark age with the collapse of Mycenaean civilization unto the already mentioned Archaic period: Greeks knew disaster is always close at hand which explains Plato’s obsession with forming an endless state, a state with a “noble lie” as foundation, which would come to overcome even their great discovery of cyclic history, which, according to Polybius was cycles of primitive, rural or pastoral democracy with chieftains which voted for their bloodlines, unto aristocracy, rule of “the best,” “Athenians,” best of the best, most virtuous as according to Greeks, then monarchy, either hereditary or of “saintly kings,” only for it all to end up in Tyranny, like the Thirty Tyrants…what would such geniuses come up with at their twilight? A religion…translated from Aramaic into Greek, Koine Greek which was the lingua franca, a world language of the day. Christianity is the noble lie Greeks came up with! For to overcome themselves, they needed to obliviate the Gods, which even Aristotle began in his Metaphysics, often observing how it is nonsensical that the gods would drink and have patterns like humans, thinking of them as symbolic pictures (a clear-cut blasphemy for any Greek of any earlier age?), and all Greeks were in the same place as we are today. I am recalled of Plutarch and his story in a dialogue “On the Failure of Oracles”:

Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, “When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.”

As many persons were on the vessel, the story was soon spread abroad in Rome, and Thamus was sent for by Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became so convinced of the truth of the story that he caused an inquiry and investigation to be made about Pan; and the scholars, who were numerous at his court, conjectured that he was the son born of Hermes and Penelope.

The great Pan is dead! Christ—son of Mary and Joseph…E.B. Browning turned it into a great poem which is rather forgotten…the Greeks, in a manner of speaking, overcame their cyclical comprehension of history, introducing a linear progress of Europe: the progress they envision was made possible by the wisdom of far-seeing Greeks and I often wonder why have they chosen precisely that myth? Why not Mithras, why not Zoroastrianism? Do people get Nietzsche attempted to do the same, to write a new kind of a religious text for his awakened humanity which must overcome a cataclysm, namely, that “Pan is dead,” that “God died?” St. Luke’s literary talent (and many others) uplifted the Bible the way only a Greek could envision…Nietzsche chose Greeks, sophists, but Greeks envisioned and perhaps invented Christianity…and as we know from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book III: “No Lacedaemonian deliberates about the best choice of government for Scythia.” Because to do this is to be considered foolhardy. You can’t refashion a people in this manner. In this was Nietzsche perhaps a Scythian, he couldn’t be a Lacedaemonian of a new people. Going against Greeks always fails—but, who will be new Greeks of a new age?


Capabilities of danger: is what is being weak for a strong man being wrong for an intellectual, being false for a philosopher, being suspicious for a believer?  The weakness of a failing society might be the overcoming of wrongness by strength—one grows tired of protocol which is no longer purposeful, a custom of debating is now expanded to a point of anarchy: what is our equality, what is equality in Serbia? You insult me, I insult you back. You slap me once, I hit you. You call upon my decency—I mock your weakness. Every act is expected to follow to another act. What is just? That every one uses his best tools, not his worst—a strong man fully justifies himself for hitting an intellectual who enrages him with sophistry—have you not sought proof and dialectic? I notice how categorical equality is in the West: hierarchical, customary, class-like, proper. An intellectual can’t be proven wrong with his physical weakness; a strong man can’t be proven right by his cunning—over here, anything goes…otherwise, would we be equal?


To know your “human value”: one becomes embarrassed when he doesn’t have anyone local to quote. One becomes enraged when he doesn’t even have great bones to grind…a few great minds become a point of pride or ownership by worthless societies: to every liberal that accuses the first generation of great men, say of Americans, I often say, “Indeed, they are British.” Suddenly the liberal comes to feel insulted—he wants to be the one grinding down their bones! “Well, they were born as British subjects, so they are not actually Americans you know, so whatever, their sins are not your responsibility.” Suddenly, my correspondents grow enraged—I am taking away their toy.


Philosophers and youth: we have fulfilled Nietzsche’s warning on trusting elders too much and have grown so incapable of listening to them we would rather die than listen to common sense. In this we have not become better, overcame nothing, and have grown too youthful, that we are children even at age of 40—a young mother with children is now sensed as a great terror for the uninitiated: how could we even dare to raise others when we can’t even mature ourselves! We are left solely with our experiences that are solitary, without elders we babble like children about ourselves, what we heard, saw, and felt: one ought to respect young mothers more in an age which is motherly but without children. Since we are barren, our children are grown men and women of other cultures on whom we practice an approving sentiment of observing their maturation. Ah! We have grown sick! How can I explain to these new barren thinkers their desire to teach me riddles of democracy and humanity creeps out, us who can still see children, and often had to amuse toddlers of our own kin? We have discovered what pains us most, which questions. One of them is: “When will you grow up, grow serious?” But the most dangerous one is: “When will you get married?”  I ask those who wish to adopt us: “Why not become an elder since your youth cripples?” The wonder we express towards joys of youth, even in philosophy, can no longer conceal the lack of a gaggle of children that we have to reason with: a single day playing with a toddler will persuade you women are either tigers or banshees, believe me. I don’t fear much, but a bored child scares me more than anything else! Quick, quick, find something to keep him occupied! If you don’t discover on your own what it means to be an elder, will you not understand what philosophy is also for: making them shut up and listen! But, there is nobody to tell us to be quiet anymore.


Of greatest worship: never forget that Aristotle dedicated his philosophy to his own Nicomachus and that even back then, having an estate to give to one’s offspring was felt as greatest of pleasure, or to receive it, to set upon a narrow path of a wealthy, well-lived and ordered life – Plato had no children but siblings which he often mentioned in his dialogues and enjoyed their familiarity, and that personal quality of his, his chatting, might stem from a lack of annoyance with incessant questions. Aristotle on the other hand, as impersonal as he can be preferred truth over Plato since truth didn’t ask too many questions. And one doesn’t even have to feed it daily. Plato was childless but was not barren as we are—Nietzsche not only had no children but barely any friends and certainly didn’t sense that side of philosophy which is a family affair, a collective fit of repeated arguments which have grown tired of explaining themselves through speech. One’s thoughts are not one’s children—bachelors of philosophy, have you started unintentionally smiling seeing a young child passing by?


Jealousy of domesticated men: my good friend, you who escape from your wife, don’t be jealous of my life! For I don’t even have anyone to escape from but my own nature and presence! You escape outside and come to meet me, and as we share a cup of coffee, grumbling about your wife and children, irritating me with your jealousy, since I am jealous of your capability to grumble! My domestication is far more dangerous and lonely!


Noble fulfillment: it is interesting to observe how true nobility emerging in a people is often connected (at least here) with most peasant sentiments of ownership and exaggeration, how nobility is nothing more than covetous desire to keep going forward, indefinitely: I once met a man who would not sell some forest, a miserable plot, to a foreign corporation which wanted to build a factory there: “Look ‘ere, young man: that’s my forest. My old man gave it to me, and his old man before him—if I didn’t give it to the communists, and my old man told the king to go to Hell, and my great-grandfather to Turks before, who am I to make a choice?” Everyone told him he is an idiot—later, it turned out, the factory, moved elsewhere polluted the soil beyond repair. I envision a new kind of nobility—a nobility of inherited forests and herds of pigs, a nobility which is chained to circumstances, a property which is useful only when it is not fully used up, so that each generation stubbornly refuses to progress, to become more economically prosperous than necessary—only this will save our many forests and nature from our “progress.” Have no doubt: I teach self-enslavement.


Ungrateful slaves: a society which has liberated itself from a different race, if it is too close to it shall begin to fester and spoil greatest of potential on petty memory and personal history, until everything reeks of a forced compassion some descendant of former masters must feel. In such circumstances a person feels as if living in his time is shameful and morally unjust since those before him suffered—but their suffering begins to haunt him and his brothers and sisters begin to loathe every descendant of a master as if time has not progressed. Why? Because former slaves remain poor and gain bad character, while former masters remain rich and their character becomes good, sophisticated, enlightened. “We have made an error, we have corrected it!” irks every man whose history is proof of his ethnic incompetence to be free. “True, you made an error. Apologize!” But in our heart is a sentiment—“What would we give if we could make an error like you did, to your ancestors!” In such circumstances one must stamp down an incessant need to use weeping as a weapon: that ship has sailed. Have the mad courage to respect your slave-masters when they were great! In fact, proclaim them greatest of men, not fiends and whatnot: since only greatest of men could own greatest of objects: your ancestors. Russians were the greatest prize of Mongols and us the greatest of Turks. Now, when we can even comprehend the glory of Bayazit or Kublai Khan…who dares enslave us? Only those that can kill us can rule over us. Therefore, only the strongest can wield such nations…Germans have come to adore Romans but, ah, old masters perished! And there are no people willing to be masters of us.


A suffering argument: if you need to say your ancestors suffered in life, how will you not suffer? Do you have the courage to understand the slave of the pharaoh was content? His master was a God–Egyptians loathed most god Set who was considered the god of Chaos, Death, and—foreigners. To worship liberation was impossible since it was Chaos: Order, a deeply felt sense one is ruled by a living god, who shields and clothes, and even owns all land under your feet—to go against such a man must have been felt as worse than slavery, and Egyptians loathed Eastern incursions, or the Sea peoples and their invasion deeper than anything, personalizing it in Set, whom they viewed as a foe. There are freedoms which are not Egyptian so they are wrong as they are. There is pain which is Egyptian but can be tempered.


A suffering outcome: another sentiment entirely is that of a vassal who goes to his master, accusing the last free men of his kin for some misdeed. Our history is personal kin-slaying, since that is what we learned masters seek, and have simply kept fulfilling it even when the master is gone. Which is why all of us, once thoroughly dominated recoil at the word traitor differently than masters. Masters betray ideals, personal whims, character faults—we betray life, lash out that it is better to suffer together than a single one of us to get ahead if getting ahead means picking up crumbs. Americans apparently have this sentiment too, and call them “Uncle Tom” characters, and we call them “Poturica,” “Turk-like,” “Westernizer,” but this sentiment is often debilitating, it is in fact a suffering outcome of our enslavement: we still haven’t grasped we can’t own past suffering as fully as we decree. Living in some ghetto or a destroyed society becomes a mark of loyalty, and personal development deepest accusation: you are still picking up crumbs from your master’s table!


Spoiled servants: I truly long for a day when Americans are done with the rest of us, once the rest of you discover what it means to have Russians as neighbors, or Chinese as benefactors. However they have changed from what they used to be. Observe the different manner in which they treated Japanese. Coming into Japan, American soldiers were playing around as children, swinging Japanese blades and sharing around candy, with no mass-rapes, no re-education centers, no moralizing, no grandstanding, to a great confusion of the Japanese. It almost appeared they were conquered by a harmless people, that is to say, a healthy people, who in their strength, rule effortlessly, almost lazily. They cooked up the Japanese pacifistic constitution with laziest of demands: don’t start wars, don’t go around killing people…also, give us a few researchers and…oh, right, we also want a port. And that was it! For this, have they gotten the firmest of allies—if however, the current American sentiment, that strange feminine mix of cruelty and sense of righteousness was back then, or if it starts now? If they taught all Japanese children to publicly flagellate themselves over Korean war-brides, or forced prostitution, over human experiments, if they told them the entire Japanese race is sick: imperialistic, racist, proto-fascist, that their culture is not “authentic” since there was no equality and democracy, only nobles, priests, warlords, that everyone was taught to be pleased to be a subject, how long before a rebellion would occur? Americans have lost a sense of ease with themselves—even this country they could have flattened with the ground which is what we would have done to them. Why? Because we feel history personally, as something to “have a few words about.” A most dangerous sentiment—in their strength, Americans perceived Russians as barbaric thugs, or a corrupted Asiatic force but could care less about them. We demanded too much of them, and our expectations always spoiled, we gave them an illusion we have a choice, even if all would live in America. A man who emigrates to Russia or Serbia, Romania, Balkans, we consider as a mad person: the people who live there unworthy to waste time on. A proper sentiment. The world is now filled with ungrateful servants and flimsy masters who care a bit too much about what is thought about them. Suddenly, it goes back in time: those same young soldiers out in Japan, were too “cynical”, too “practical”, they didn’t hear the wailing of Koreans, Chinese, and every victim of the Japanese. Should they have butchered them then? Well, no, but…but, what? But it doesn’t make me feel good! True—perhaps they heard the wailing like we hear you and were merely annoyed! They had the gall to say out loud: “Why should I suffer a loser’s trifles?”


For all installments of “Dusk: Thoughts on Moral Convictions — An Exercise in Submission, Forgery, and Petty Thinking,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3